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Last week, the council voted to issue $600 million in pension-obligation bonds (three times what Murphy was talking about last summer) and also to toe the line against labor unions in upcoming contract negotiations. Once again, Frye was the sole opponent. The city shouldn't issue bonds until its long-delayed 2003 audit is out, she said. And it can't issue bonds until the criminal and civil investigations into inaccurate bond prospectuses are complete. Critics charge that in opposing the hard line against labor, she is pandering to labor's votes, although the major unions representing city employees are backing her opponents.

Says Republican Bruce Henderson, former councilmember. "Donna's vote was pro-taxpayer," he says. San Diego got into its fiscal fix by pandering to special interests. Underfunding the pension system was one of several methods to balance budgets bloated by corporate welfare. Labor can't be blamed for asking for more pay in exchange for underfunding. Besides, the egregious pension abuses -- the million-dollar lump sums in addition to six-figure monthly payments -- went to top city officials who were in the establishment's pocket. "Anybody who says all our problems were caused only by workers is playing politics."

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